Last time I spoke about lost opportunities and the fact that too often new technology is used to duplicate products and processes that already exist. But this time I’d like to explore the idea that old doesn’t always mean past it.

The right tools can certainly allow you to throw away the existing, dusty product and process manuals and start again, but they should also allow you to keep the best of what is already there.

For example, we have come across the following:

  • Legacy systems that are proven, tried, and tested. They are trusted for their core functionality… they work. However, the world has moved on and they are no longer properly equipped for the increasingly mobile digital age.
  • New systems that didn’t meet the original expectations of the business. Although they tend to be judged as failures, parts of these systems continue to work well.

They both have elements that work, but they both have gaps that cause compromise and workarounds. The results can be inefficiency, frustration and, ultimately, a disappointing customer experience.

The trouble is that workarounds almost always become standard practice. Initially, the business accepts a workaround because it has to, otherwise the job won’t get done. Then, after a while, because the system is seen to work, and because there is a perception that change means time and money, nothing is changed. Eventually, management forget that the inefficient workarounds have been left in place.

There really is a middle ground. You can keep everything that works and use new technology to plug the gaps. This bears no similarity to workarounds that are usually manual and involve disparate systems that don’t talk to each other. The latest technologies integrate with your existing solutions as interoperable services that can seamlessly support your full business processes.

With modern systems, there is no excuse for accepting the mediocre or facing huge risk. First listen to your staff and customers. Identify the gaps in efficiency and delivery. Then go to market to find a solution that offers true service-orientated architecture to help you solve your business problems.

Your solution might be an entirely new system, enabling new processes that take advantage of new technology. Or it might be a number of smaller solutions that plug the gaps in your otherwise servicable system that is far from past it at the moment.

I make no apologies for ending on the same note as last time, as it needs repeating:

The best technology is simply an enabler. The real creativity lies with the people who understand what their market needs and can articulate a vision. Technology enables you to realise your vision and grasp the opportunities on offer.